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Jungian Archetype of the wolf – gods and godnesses, warriors and mothers, demons and outlaws, evil and uebermensch



In a few weeks, there is Whitsun, and I will make one of my occasional trips to the monastery. The rock monastery St. George is a development center of the Benedictine  order in the Austrian Inn valley. From the monastery to the St. George mountain (Karwendel) on foot takes approximately one  hour. The religious exercise will be lead by a Benedictine monk, who happens to have formal psychoanalytic credentials and introduced the theme “The archetype of the wolf” for what to my understanding is a spiritual hiking weekend.

This article is a preparation to the theme and will be updated afterwards. Initially I thought, that the wolf is a somewhat boring theme, but it became clear during my research, that in mythology, religion, in legends and fairy tales the wolf has played an outstanding ambiguous, dualist and multidimensional role. The wolf archetype is so  central,  that how the wolf is viewed, indicates the mindset of the human,  secular or spiritual organisations of the society we live in.

But there is much  more. Joland Jacobi, a close assicate of C.G. Jung mentiones the archetype of the wolf a few times in her book “Complex, Archetypes, Symbol in the Psychology of C.G. Jung”, Bollingen Series Princton University Press, 1957. Joland Jacobi writes, “being devoured or swallowed is also a widespread archetypal motif… the wolf that devours the kid”….  [page 155, 181,185].  C:G: Jung writes numerious times about Wotan, who was eaten at Ragnarok  by the giant wolf Fenrir and then avenged by his son Vidar e.g. “Four Archetypes Mother, Rebirth, Spirit, Trickster”, Routledge and Paul, 1957.  In the the same book, C-G. Jung writes about the wolves about the German fairytale, in which the wolf gives the hero a magic gift of his hairs (page 109) .

The wolf reminded men to their domestication and their inner struggle with it. The wolf became also an image of remaining wild and sexuality, in a Jungian sense became men’s Shadow of undesired and unwanted. Those of us with Western background, do often not realize the depths and subtle (subtile) differences and similarity of Pagan German or Norse,  Eastern or Native American stories. Especially wolf stories examine reincarnation, spiritual energy, gift exchange, the vitality of the body, and the spirit of the soul. In the old worldview everything is in flux and begins, balances out from, and ends with polarities akin to yin and yang. Even the gods are subject to this, undergo transformation, and often pay for what they gain with a corresponding loss. For indigenous people – including the indigenous Celts and Germanic – religion as such did not exist. Native views of spirituality wed it to time and place, land and sea and sky. Our forebears lived side by side with the wolves in an inspirited world, and that world abides, as do its instinctive, but sacred dimensions:

Axe-time, sword-time, shields are sundered,
Wind-time, wolf-time, ere the world falls;
Nor ever shall men each other spare….
Now do I see the earth anew
Rise all green from the waves again

Myth wolf – gods, goddesses, demons and outlaws

DarkWolfOutlawWolves make quick decisions, often need to trust their own instincts and  make firm emotional attachments. They teach us to do the same, to trust our instincts and intuitions, and have control over our own lives.  At some point in psychological development, most people struggle with the transformation of spiritual and physical aspects of their being. In many stories, the wolf was described as wild, tearing, biting, grim and bloodthirsty. The image of the wolf has been used to represent all those aspects.  From where does the primeval fear and awe of the wolf originate?

Demons: In the Edda, the ancient Icelandic sagas, the wolf was a symbol for demonic powers: Odin, the God of war and death was accompanied by two wolves. The mythical wolf  Fenrir, a son of the fire god Loki and the giant Angrboda was stronger than gods. In Indian mythology, the wolf is described as demonic. Furthermore, the wolf is portrayed as thievish, deceptive and false. In India, the demons were named after the wolf. In Christianity the wolf was even equated with the devil: Jesus Christ advised against false prophets dressed in sheep’s clothing which in fact were wolves. Numerous myths from Eastern Europe, Russia and Scandinavia tell about the creation of the wolf by the devil. During the creation of the wolf, the devil relied on the help of God and it was God’s will that the wolf kills sheep and goats.

Gods: Many different cultures worshipped the wolf. For the Egyptians the wolf symbolized the god of the empire of the dead. For the Romans the wolf was the symbol for Mars, the God of war. The combination of the wolf with war was not meant to be negative but, instead, correlated it to the glorious death of a warrior or emperor. Furthermore, the fighting heroes were compared with furious wolves.

Positive Male power: The combination of the wolf with war was not meant to be negative but, instead, correlated it to the glorious death of a warrior or emperor. Furthermore, the fighting heroes were compared with furious wolves. The wolf is also worshipped as the protector of human beings. The wolf was either seen as a fierce guardian or caring provider. The wolf is very often also associated with war and strength. In both German and Norse mythology, wolf was a symbol of chaos, destruction and death. Wolves are seen as teachers of hard, but necessary lessons. The wolf is also a symbol of guardianship, ritual, loyalty, and spirit.

Positive female power: Many different cultures worshipped the nurturing she-wolf as symbol of fertility.. The most famous myth is Romulus and Remus, the founders of the city of Rome, who were abandoned as small children. A wolf found them and raised them as her own cubs. In other contexts, the wolf also was honored as a  symbol of motherly sacrifice and fertility. The frequent connection between goddess figures and totemic wolves may be taken as another indication of the great role of wolves in primitive matriarchal societies and shamanic religions.



Negative untamed power: People from many cultures and traditions have interpreted the wolf as representing the untamed (unconscious). The word wolf is widely common in the Indo-European roots of language and often not only stands for the animal, but describes in the old Germanic languages the bandit, murderer, slayer, defied criminal, evil ghost or supernatural beast.

The Wolf in the wild

Wolf pack

Wolf pack

The basic social unit of wolf populations is the pack. Packs usually consist of between five and eight members, up  thirty wolves or more  depending of the size of the prey being hunted.  Wolves generally establish territories ranging from forty to more than four hundred square miles in some cases. They define their ranges with scent markings and such vocalizations as growls, barks, and the legendary howl and will defend this area against intruders. A wolf pack is like a family unit, consisting of an adult pair and their mostly grown offspring. Members of the pack form strong social bonds that promote internal cohesion. Order is maintained by a dominance hierarchy. The pack leader,  a male, before pc times often referred as the alpha male tends to initiate pack activity and lead the group on hunts. During a hunt, he will guide its movements and assume control at critical moments. Newer studies of wild wolves have found that wolves live in families: two parents along with their younger cubs. Communication is especially important for wolves, where coordinating, cooperating, and reinforcing bonds and status are necessary. Within a family of wolves, communication helps maintain social stability and solidarity. Communication amongst wolves is particularly complex and use a range of vocalizations to “talk”, body language and scent. The “wolf” talk conducted by the  dominate male keeps the family pack together and working as a group.  In some literature a “dominant alpha couple” is found. Research at wolves in captivity are not transferable in the wild, because here wolves of different origin or family groups were locked together.

Wolves and humans were always rivals, and sometimes enemies, perhaps because they were so similar to humans in many ways .Wolves have a strong social nature and are, like humans were,  organized as a family tribe.  In any case, through gestures and body movement, they communicate their feelings. Wolves like to howl as a pack for several reasons. It may be to encourage their closeness, to celebrate a successful hunt, and to tell other packs to keep away. The lone wolf, a younger male, is usually in search of his own territory and a mate. He will skirt the territories of others, but rarely howl. Leaving the pack allows for young males to leave from their families or pack and begin the cycle of life by finding a mate, and beginning their own family. While the wolf pack is led by an Alpha male, each wolf assumes his or her share of responsibility for the welfare of the pack. From the early playful experiences with the older wolves, pups are carefully trained to assume their part of the leadership of the pack as if their life, and that of the pack, depends upon it. It is the same with successful civil or military organizations and families or it seems, psychoanalysis. Thomas Mann wrote in regards to essays from C.G. Jung published  under the title Wirklichkeit der Seele (1934): ‘C.G. Jung a dubious character. … he is no lone wolf’, he is not one of those who remain true to the eternal laws of reason and morarity.

Until today, the wolf evokes fear. Yet the wolf is not dangerous monstrosity, but rather an intelligent carnivore with a distinct social behavior. Anybody who “owns” a good hunting dog, observes, that good dogs, good leaders and good man in general share some attribute of a wolf. The life of a man and a wolf did not differ very much a few thousand years ago: Both were either successful hunters or perished – as simple as that. During those early years of mankind wolves were always competitors with humans for the same prey species. Yet the competition between them increased when men settled 10,000 years ago and began agriculture and cattle-raising. The farm animals  were for wolves easy prey, and many sheep or goats fell victim to  them. The wolf became the hateful animal, which threatened the livelihood or at least property of the man.  Even as backpacker I was more afraid of a wolf(s) pack than of a brown bear.

Archetypal significance of the Wolf


Wolf Archetype: Dual Archetypes – conflicting messages

No matter how polite, on the question how well advertising works, a marketer said once: One must know and find archetypal images and connect them with the products of the market. So the message becomes strong and the desired behavior tendency is more easily constructed. One finds few wolves in advertizing, since the archetypal significance of the wolf symbolizes evil as well as positive and spiritual aspects. As shown before, you do see the claimed by ideologies and religions.  The wolf  represents as noted before, and like the picture on the left an integration of opposites. It has always carried a sense of contradiction: a wild and fearful animal, that can represent death and evil; but at the same time a companion to the goddess Artemis and the norse god, Odin. Theis dual imago of the wolf is also represented by the contrast between its masculine and feminine nature. The masculine nature of the wolf is depicted by many cultures as the protector and warrior. The feminine nature is symbolized as the  she-wolf form nurturing the twins, Romulus and Remus, or in the Irish myth of Cormac, or Kaspar Hauser who were suckled by wolves. Interesting enough, Christianity enforced and broke this dualism in early Biblical sources presenting a contrast between the wolf symbolizing bloodshed and destruction versus the symbol of the wolf and the lamb lying down together representing peace and the coming Messianic rule. The middle ages also presented this contrast between the image of the wolf as devil, versus the wolf as an “emblem of Saint Francis of Assisi who tamed the wolf”.

C.G. Jung’s basic archetypes and the Wolf



Jung developed an understanding of archetypes as being “ancient or archaic images, that derive from the collective unconscious”. There are many different archetypes, and Jung has stated they are limitless, but they have basic  examples in very person  include the ‘persona’, the ‘shadow’, the ‘anima’, the ‘animus’,  and the Self.   Four more archetypes are prominently mentioned by C.G. Jung; ‘great mother’, the ‘trickster’, the archetype of transformation and  the ‘hero”.  It is interesting, that the wolf can represent them all.
Jung proposed, that the archetype had a dual nature: it exists both in the psyche and in the world at large. He suggested also, that not only do the archetypal structures govern the behaviour of all living organisms, but that they were  controlling the behaviour of inorganic matter as well. The archetype was not merely a psychic entity, but more fundamentally, a bridge to matter in gnostic entities in occult tradition are known as aeons. The Germanic Wotan (Norse Odin) is such an aeon described by Jung (who was very much drawn to Gnosis).
.Now, anther Jung’s theory about Wotan, the Germans and Hitler disposition as a “seer”  draw a lot of political and academic fire. Interesting here is also, that Hitler, who was inseparable of Blondi, his wolf-hound chose a name for himself – Wolf. In Egyptian mythology a god, Upuaut was the scout, going out to clear routes for the army to proceed forward. One old inscription found  mentioned Upuaut “opens the way” to king Sekhemkhet’s victory. Over time, the connection to war, and thus to death, led to Upuaut also being seen as one who opened the ways to, and through, Duat, for the spirits of the dead.

But back to my interpretation the basic sub-archetypes of the wolf:

  • The nurturing and protective wolf appearing as the great she-wolf who nursed Romulus and Remus (Anima).
  • The male wolf  initiated by society forces the young adult in becoming a mature adult (Anima).
  • The guard  conducting souls through the gates, which had to be passed as in Egyptian mythology (Shadow).
  • The wolf in sheep’s clothing who attempts to hide its instinctive and wild self by developing a persona of meekness and innocence (Persona).
  • The howling wolf who has a voice to communicate with others and is reclaimed inner voice of the soul (Ego)
  • The wolf and lamb lying together, which represents inner peace  (Self).
  • The wolf who has accepted his (or her) role in life (Ego after individuation).

C.G. Jung wrote little about  wolves as archetype directly (except one might very well relate the wolf to the trickster and coyote) but wrote extensively about fairytales and myths in which the wolf often plays a major role.

The Romolus myth is mentioned by Henderson in ” Der Mensch und seine Symbole, C.G. Jung, Jaffe  Olten 1968, as the fourth stage of the hero myth. In Bly’s  Iron John the wolf is represented by the wild man, the hunter and warrior.

C.G. Jung’s archetypes of transformation and the Wolf

The werewolf  as  bloodthirsty creature, once person, once wolf has been sold gladly by the  film industry in  “American Werewolf” or the classic silent movie Mr. Cecil and Hyde. During the Middle Ages, the belief was widely accepted, that men would transform into werewolves. The werewolf, a creature from the devil, obsessed, half human and half animal, roamed the streets at night and, “drank the still warm blood, gorged the bowels from its innocent victims during orgies of satanic cruelty”. The belief in werewolves already existed in the ancient world, but during the Middle Ages this belief grew to be much stronger. Mostly women and children became victims of werewolves, which, in reality were men, that felt and acted like wolves while under the influence of drugs and rituals. It was believed, that with the help of the Malleus Maleficarum (the hammer of the witches) in 1489, one could not only recognize witches, but also werewolves, which resulted in countless men being burned to death on bonfires as so-called werewolves. To contemporaries, it was clear, that one would turn into a werewolf through an evil spell or as a punishment for a serious sin.

Wolf archetypes and pagan myths (Edda)

eddaThere was even a  a monstrous wolf who was a major threat to the gods who appears in both the ‘Poetic (or Elder) Edda’ and the ‘Prose Edda’ written down in Iceland during the 13th from earlier traditional sources, reaching into the Viking Age. The name Fenrir means “from the swamp.” Also known as the Fenriswolf, he was the offspring of the trickster fire god Loki. In Norse mythology, Loki is a god or jötunn/Jætt or both. Some of the jötnar (a mythological of giants and giantesses) have hideous appearances – claws, fangs, and deformed features. Fenrir’s sister was the goddess Hel and his brother the evil serpent Jormungand.  The Vikings believed, that during Ragnarok, the battle that would take place at the end of the world. According to the myths, the evil Loki himself gave birth to Fenrir, after eating the heart of a giantess, the witch Angerbotha. After his birth, the gods received prophecies of disaster, but the gods could not kill Fenrir because it would have defiled their sanctuary. But they sought some way to tie up the beast, who grew noticeably larger each day. They attempted to restrain him, but after failed attempts they became even more afraid of the wolf’s power. Odin sent Skirnir, Frey’s messenger, down into the world of the dwarfs and had them fashion a magic restraint called Gleipnir, smooth and soft, like a silken ribbon. They called the wolf, showed him the silky band, and challenged him to test his strength again. Fenrir was suspicious because of the thinness of the band. The gods agreed to free him if he could not break out of the fetter himself. But Fenrir asked that, someone puts their hand into his mouth as a pledge, that the gods were acting in good faith. None of the gods was willing to take such a risk, knowing full well the deceit, but then Tyr stepped forward and put his right hand into the wolf’s mouth, making the sacrifice that would keep the gods safe. Fenrir was bound with Gleipnir, and he tried with all his might, but could not snap it. The gods laughed to see the wolf’s distress–except for Tyr, of course, his hand got bitten of at the wrist.   Fenrir continued to howl horribly, but would remain until Ragnarok, when the gods and the giants would fight to the death. By the time of Ragnarok, the wolf would have grown so large, that when he opened his mouth, his lower jaw would be against the Earth and his upper jaw would scrape heaven. Flames would burn from his eyes and nostrils. At Ragnarok, the wolf would break loose and join the giants and other monsters in all-out war with the gods. Fenrir would kill Odin by swallowing him. Odin’s son Vidar would then come forward avenging Odin and, killing the beast at last.

Wolf archetypes – and the Egyptian Lord of the Necropolis



In late Egyptian mythology, Wepwawet (also rendered Upuaut) was originally a war deity.  Wepwawet was called the son of Isis, and was one of several Egyptian deities to take the form of a canine, today identified as a wolf. Egyptologists now believe, that he was more likely associated with the jackal, though he is often depicted with a gray or white head. Wepwawet originally was seen as a wolf deity, thus the Greek name of Lycopolis, meaning city of wolves. Over time, the connection to war, and thus to death, led to Wepwawet also being seen as one who guarded the spirits of the dead. In later Egyptian art, Wepwawet was depicted as a wolf or a jackal, or as a man with the head of a wolf or a jackal.Reflecting his lupine origins, he was depicted dressed as a soldier, as well as carrying other military equipment – a mace and a bow.  With the rise of the solar cult, particularly during the 12th Dynasty, Osiris was limited to the underworld and the local god and Wepwawet  gained the titles, “Lord of Abydos” and Lord of the Necropolis”.  The god is well established in New Kingdom funerary texts such as the Book of Going Forth by Day, Book of the Dead, and the Amduat (Book of That Which Is in the Underworld). Wepwawet was also thought of as the messenger and champion of royalty  who accompanied the king while hunting as “the one with the sharp arrow who is more powerful than the gods.” Wepwawet  is not to be confused with Anubis.

The story of Isis and Osiris is one of Egypt’s most ancient myths and base of the concept of death (and resurrection) which is so central to their religion.  Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nepthys and the elder Horus  were siblings born of Geb, the sky god, and Nut, the earth goddess, had five children. Osiris became king of Egypt, and he married his sister Isis. Seth was married loveless to Nepthys and always jealous of his oldest brother Osiris. On a feast of gods, he tricked Osiris into  a coffin and drowned him. To prevent Isis from bringing Osiris back to live he cut him into pieces and distributed them throughout Egypt. Isis, who had great magical powers, decided, to collect the pieces of her husband’s body and re-assembling them. Once she completed this task, she breathed the breath of life into his body and resurrected him.  Isis became pregnant soon after gave birth to the younger Horus, the hawk-god. The cult of Isis spread with Alexander the Great throughout Greece and became in Rome through Caligula a state religion. The image of Isis nursing the younger Horus found it way into Christianity, like the judgment after death and the hell and in Iris’ deed maybe even resurrection.

While over the time all of the many gods only “survived” as incarnations of Re, who became the most powerful, almost panteistic sun god, Osiris was able to descend into the underworld, where he became the only lord of that domain. Here the first time in history the concept of the judgement after death was introduced. There were 42 sins, you could by guilt of. Ages ago, before the birth of Younger Horus, Wepwawet’d situated himself as the god of war, aiding his followers before, during, and even after a battle. But under these new circumstances Wepwawet petitioned Osiris these days for a new role.  The wolf-headed god was then assigned as guide to the dead leading the deceased through the Underworld (hence his name). Not long after Wepwawet appointed as guide did Osiris’ ability to communicate outside of the underworld began to wane. Wepwawet stepped in again and offered his help as a messenger (like the Greek Hermes and the Roman mercury). Some say Wepwawet’s still a scavenger at heart like his animal totem, groping for whatever task isn’t taken or is even partly available.

Here a list of the most important and mentioned gods:

  • GEB: the earth-god; husband of Nut; member of the ennead of Heliopolis; represented as a man.
  • NUT: the sky-goddess, wife of Geb, the earth-god; represented as a woman, her naked body curved to form the arch of heaven.
  • HORUS: the falcon-deity, originally the sky-god, identified with the king during his lifetime; also regarded as the son of Osiris and Isis, for the former of whom he became the avenger; cult-centers in many places, e.g. Behdet in the Delta, Hierakonpolis and Edfu in Upper Egypt. See also, Haroeris, Harpocrates, Harsiesis, Re-Harakhty.
  • ISIS: the divine mother, wife of Osiris and mother of Horus; one of the four ‘protector’-goddesses, guarding coffins and Canopic jars; sister of Nephthys with whom she acted as a divine mourner for the dead; in the Late Period Philae was her principal cult-centre. I have written about Isis imported to Roman culture in “Isis, Mithras and Jesus”: Clash of male and female Archetypes in classical Rome.
  • SETH (SET, SUTEKH): the god of storms and violence; identified with many animals, including the pig, ass, okapi, and hippopotamus; represented as an animal of unidentified type; brother of Osiris and his murderer; the rival of Horus; equated by the Greeks with Typhon.
  • WEPWAWET (UPUAUT): the wolf god of Asyut in Middle Egypt; a god of the necropolis and an avenger of Osiris. Wepwawet (Upuaut, Wep-wawet, and Ophois) was an ancient canine god whose worship originated in Upper Egypt. He was one of the earliest of the gods to be worshipped at Abydos, possibly predating (and absorbing) that of Khentyamentiu (another god of the Abydos necropolis). Not to be mistaken  with Anubis, there is very little information about the family of Wepwawet, or parents, if he had any at all. He is sometimes the son of Set, or of Anubis.  Most of the time he is said to be a son of Isis, which may further relate him to Anubis. Or he could be another foster-son adopted by Isis.
  • ANUBIS: protector and son of Osiris and Nephthys.  As Osiris grew in popularity (absorbing both Khentyamentiu and Wepwawet) Anubis took on Wepwawet’s funerary role. During the New Kingdom his standard even preceded that of Osiris and the “procession of Wepwawet” initiated the mysteries of Osiris as a god of the dead.
  • NEPHTHYS is the river goddess and daughter of Nut.
  • AMUT, Ammut, or Ammit or Ahemait, is the crocodile goddess known as the “Devourer of the Dead”  assists Anubis with carrying out the Judgements
  • AMON- RE (RA), Amun-Ra and Akmun-Rah: the sun-god of Heliopolis; head of the great ennead, supreme judge; often linked with other gods aspiring to universality, e.g. Amen-Re, Sobk-Re; represented as falcon-headed. Re  is the god of the Sun and king of the gods until Osiris took over his throne.
  • OSIRIS (ASAR): the god of the underworld, identified as the dead king; also a god of the inundation and vegetation; represented as a mummified king; principal cult-center, Abydos.
  • ATON or ATEN is the new god of the sun, an incarnation of Re. It was a monotheistic supernova god in a cultural revolution lasting only on reign. I have written about Aton and Echnaton here.

ATON was the (monotheistic / pantheistic) religious revolution during the period of Echnaton which wanted to suppress Amon, Osiris and Re (or assimilate him). Not only Amon was dismissed (whom all the kings of the New Empire had worshipped at Thebes), but all the other gods had gone.  Re became a spirit who returned life to each person after every incarnation and a new state religion, Aton (was Re) offered his mercy to all beings of every nation and color. There is a famous engraving of hands reaching to the sun representing an invitation of men towards the sky. Aton, the father of all the gods, also embodied them in his being, and became the one who could purify human beings, when they asked his aid to take them out of the darkness of their material life.

Wolf archetypes and Christianity

Wolf-in-sheeps-clothingEarly Christianity on the European continent employed the wolf, too, but instead of a symbol of nurturing or supernatural transition, the wolf became associated with evil and damnation as the agrarian way of life grew. The Bible describes Jesus as the shepherd protecting his herd of sheep from the wolf (The Bible, John 10:12). This would imply an intrinsic belief of the wolf as a symbol of sin and prurient influence. In Isaiah verse 11:16 of the old testament states “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb.” This phrase is thought of as a metaphor of coming together of both the upper and lower under the Christian god (Religion 431), a stark contrast in comparison to the previous example and a throwback to an earlier time when the wolf represented more positive ideas. Another very prevalent notion in both the old and new testaments of the Christian Bible, is the wolf a tool of Satan and his henchmen. Wolves in this context are thought of as ravening or stealing away the souls of men.

There was an interesting sermon in St. Ottilien recently, talking about sheep. The Pater, a son of a veterinary, said he liked sheep, but to him they are dumb. When a wolf comes to them they cuddle together, neither fighting nor running away they when they get killed.  They are powerless victims. He  referred to the German philosopher Nietzsche, who divided us into masters and slaves, in those that are prey (sheep) and those that are predators (wolves). Nietzsche wrote psychologically and physically, this divides our  human species.  The master types live by strength, creativity, independence, assertiveness, and related traits. They respect power, courage, boldness, risk-taking, even recklessness. It is natural for them to follow their own path no matter what, to rebel against social pressure and conformity. The slave types live in conformity. They tend to passivity, dependence, meekness. It is natural for them to stick together for a sense of security, just as herd animals do. (Beyond Good and Evil 264).

The Pater reminded also to the claim the God is dead – but countered it with the resurrection of Jesus. Now, Nietzsche says, what we take to be moral depends on our biological nature—and different biological natures dictate different moral codes:

What will seem good to you as a sheep? Being able to graze peacefully, sticking close together with others just like you, being part of the herd and not straying off. What will seem bad to you? Well, wolves will seem bad, and anything wolf-like, predatory, aggressive. But what if you are a wolf? Then strength, viciousness, and contempt for the sheep will come naturally to you and seem good. There is nothing the wolves and the sheep can agree on morally—their natures are different, as are their needs and goals, as is what feels good to them. The same point holds for humans. The divide between strong and weak, assertive and timid, runs straight through the human species. Moral codes, Nietzsche is here suggesting, are part of a biological type’s life strategy of survival, and the more we look at the history of morality evolutionarily and biologically, the more we are struck by the diversity of circumstances and how dramatically beliefs about values have changed across time. (Beyond Good and Evil 199).

This is precisely our key problem culturally, the pater argued. This world  shows, that we once prized excellence and power and looked down upon the humble and the lowly. Now the meek, the common man, the kindly neighbor are the “good guys” while the aggressive, the powerful, the strong, the proud are “evil.”

Jesus was warning the disciples in Matthew 10:16 when He says they are being, “sent out as sheep among wolves.”  The image and idea here is intense, but so is being a Christ follower in a world where those who follow Christ continually are facing some level of persecution. Jesus knew this and instead of telling the disciples follow me it will be easy; He let them know it will be just as dangerous, as it is for the sheep among wolves. This is the same for those who follow Christ today. As a Christ follower, a Christian, you already have the way out through salvation in Jesus through His death on the cross and resurrection by choosing it. Christians have the cure, but Jesus tells us, that while we are on this earth, those who follow Him will have difficulties bc this is not heaven this is earth where some people chose to say no to Christ and others believe and chose to follow Jesus and to those Jesus says, “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as weary as snakes and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16

Wolf archetypes and postmodern ideologies

The ruling archetype does not stay the same forever, as is evident from the temporal limitations, that have been set to the hoped-for reign of peace, and the irreversible Europe.The archetype of the just, fatherly, benevolent ruler and the nursing mother had been shattered over the whole of northern Europe, as the present fate of the Christian churches bears witness.
Even the Catholic Church can no longer afford trials of strength. Nihilistic Gods have attacked Christianity on a broad front. In communism, he is called equality and science, in national-socialism, he is called leader, and in capitalism he is called globalism.

The wolf, seen as todays financial predator, is naturally preying upon domesticated animals easily transforms into the metaphor of Satan seducing the innocents, drawing them away from their true nature into a state where they are compelled to acting against themselves and nature. This is perhaps the most frequent religious wolf related thought, which influenced Christianity and popular European culture. The sad fact though, is the image of the wolf in this context has little relation to anything based on reality and only serves not to enlighten thinking regarding this animal and its role in our world.

Wolf archetypes and masculinism


TheWolvesAintWhatTheyUsedtoBe – masculinism

Masculinism refers to advocacy of the rights or needs of men and the adherence to or promotion of opinions, values, regarded as typical of men. One of the  most prominent men’s rights advocates, was Warren Farrell. Wolves are very good archetypes  to define masculism and men. The wolf today still represents our “instinctive nature that is wild and natural” and suggests a wild and natural creature within every human, who is filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. This warrior within is seen as an archetype, that carries images, ideas, and unique behaviors for humankind. The gifts of wolfish nature come to man at birth, but society, in many instances, will attempt to civilize them into rigid roles, which will destroy the inner treasure and muffle the deep, messages of the soul. As a result, boys become trapped, over-domesticated, uncreative, and have fearful feelings. On a sociological level, societies become confused from kindergarten to the voting booth and bring Father or Mother figures against their interest in power, tangled and confused in narzistic gender issues. For men to find their soul, they will need to face their instinctive wild self so that they can become free, creative, and leading again. Of course the same can be true for females in unhealthy warrior culture, like German women who were  hysterical Hitler believers  or those today who proudly sacrifice their sons  as suicide bombers.

Wolf archetypes and feminism


The Wolves ain’t what they used to be – feminism

The wolf is also a strong female archetype. They have insticts too. Interesting enough typical Feminist ideology  divide  Masculists in a) in male feminists who promote “gender equality”,  a term which of course is shifting sand,  and b) the others as form of misogyny promoting “male superiority or dominance” by being opposed to their definition of equality. Based on this “only dead Indians are good Indians logic”, wolves are very bad role models to define feminism, but still good ones to describe female archetypes.  And there are good examples too. In her book, Women Who run With The Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, Clarissa Pinkola Estes (1992) suggests, that healthy wolves and healthy women in particular share certain psychic characteristics: keen sensing, playful spirit, and a heightened capacity for devotion. Female wolves  and women by nature are relational, inquiring, and possess great endurance and strength. They are intuitive and concerned with their young, their mate and their pack and shamanic. There is the story of La Loba, the wolf woman. Her work was collecting bones of wolves and singing life into them. The story symbolizes the soul-voice. It conveys the truth of a woman’s healing power over anything, that is ailing or in need of restoration. Thus, the wolf is the representation of the Great Mother an archetype, which carries female images, ideas, and unique behaviors for humankind to help people to find their soul, and as warrior to help people to protect their survival.  You might remember the two articles, Four archetypes of the (fe)male. The wolf combines the duality of the Great Mother and Great Warrior. The wolf can thus be seen as a symbol on an intra-psychic level for a successful individuation. The spiritual Self consoles and integrates his Anima (or her Animus) and their shadow, which was created to adjust to collective norms . Individuation suggests a commitment to inner growth and development.

Myth wolf – yesterday and today

A short summary of wolf features prominently in a number of stories everywhere.

Europe and Middle East:

  • Lycaon was the first king in Arcadia in Greece. He led a wicked life. The god Zeus came in disguise to a banquet at his palace and was disgusted to be served a child’s limbs. The god destroyed the palace and turned the king and his sons into wolves. Then he sent a flood to drown them all.
  •  The Egyptians had a wolf god, Wepwawet, whose name meant “he who opens the road.” He led kings in battle, and his image was carried through the streets of his town, Assiut, during a great annual feast. The wolf counted later also as God of the underworld . He was sort of demoted together with Osiris to the underworld.
  •  Early Biblical sources represented the wolf as destructive and associated with the evening (Jeremiah 5:6, and dishonest gain, bloodshed and destruction (Ezekiel 22:27, The Holy Bible). However, when the wolf and lamb were depicted lying down even though they were considered traditional enemies, together they represented peace and the coming Messianic rule (Isaiah 65:25 The Holy Bible).  Many saints tamed wolves, just as St. Francis of Assisi did.
  • rome_shewolf_twins


    The founding of Rome – and thus, an entire empire – was based on the story of Romulus and Remus, orphaned twins who were raised by a she-wolf . The association of the wolf with the female was seen in the primitive Roman cult of Lupa or Feronia, which was inherited from Sabine matriarchy. It is based on best known Western myth  of Romulus and Remus: The wolf as a provider supposed to have nursed human infants. An ancient statue in the Lupercal grotto was later enhanced with images of the infants, Romulus and Remus were annually honored at the Lupercalia, the festival of the She-wolf, held every year in February, which was a multi-purpose event that celebrates the fertility of not only the livestock, but people as well. The “Jungle book” has a similar theme as the main character, “Mowgli”, is raised by wolves.The Romans thought it was lucky to see a wolf. The animal was sacred to Mars, god of war and protector of Rome. Julius Caesar’s victory over the Gauls at Sentinium, in 195 B.C., was attributed to a wolf, which was sent by Mars to frighten the enemy.

  • The German Nibelungen legend tells how warriors used to eat roast wolf-meat to give themselves the courage of the wolf.  Norse myths are all about valor, wolves have an important place, showing how they inspire fascination and fear in fighting men. When Wotan (Odin(, god of war and wisdom, sat on his throne at the palace of Valhalla, two great tame wolves lay at his feet,the symbol of his power and guarding the palace. The great wolves Geri and Freki, ate up the remains of the gods’ great feasts.  In German fairy tales the big, bad wolf is referred to as being wild, tearing, snappish, grim and sanguinary. Grimm (German Romantic) even describes him as being the most evil creature of all animals in “The Wolf and the Seven Little Goats”.
  • The giant wolf Fenir of the Edda represents destruction and violence (see a narrative in a separate chapter above).
  • The Romans identified Wotan with Mercury, but his character does not really correspond to any Roman or Greek god, although there are certain resemblances. He is a wanderer like Mercury, for instance, he rules over the dead like Pluto and Kronos.
    He would be the connecting-link with the Christian ‘pneuma’ and the miracle of Pentecost.
  •  In the stories of the Ulster cycle, the Celtic goddess Morrighan is sometimes shown as a wolf. The connection with the wolf, along with the cow, suggests that in some areas, she may have been linked to fertility and land. Prior to her role as a warrior goddess, she was linked to sovereignty and kingship. In Scotland, the goddess known as Cailleach is often associated with wolf folklore. She is an old woman who brings destruction and winter with her, and rules the dark half of the year.

 Native America

  •  amorokThe Inuit people of North America hold the great wolf Amarok in high regard. Amarok was a lone wolf, and did not travel with a pack. He was known for preying upon hunters foolish enough to go out at night. According to legend, Amarok came to the people when the caribou became so plentiful that the herd began to weaken and fall sick. Amarok came to prey upon the frail and ill caribou, thus allowing the herd to become healthy once more, so that man could hunt.
  • There is a Lakota tale about a woman who was injured while traveling. She was found by a wolf pack, that took her in and nurtured her. During her time with them, she learned the ways of the wolves, and when she returned to her tribe, she used her newfound knowledge to help her people. In particular, she knew far before anyone else when a predator or enemy was approaching.
  • A Cherokee tale tells the story of the dog and the wolf. Originally, Dog lived on the mountain, and Wolf lived beside the fire. When winter came, though, Dog got cold, so he came down and sent Wolf away from the fire. Wolf went to the mountains, and found that, he liked it there. Wolf prospered in the mountains, and formed a clan of his own, while Dog stayed by the fire with the people. Eventually, the people killed Wolf, but his brothers came down and took revenge.


Asian Wolves

Asian Wolves

  • The Turks and the fierce Mongols were enemies; but they both claimed to be descended from wolves. One young Turkish warrior, who alone survived after a Mongol raid, was rescued by a she-wolf and led by her to a secret earthly paradise in the mountains. They were married, and their children were led by a great grey wolf to the land which is now Turkey. The Mongol emperor Genghis Khan also claimed to be the son of a wolf. Besides Buddhism  and Nestorians, Mongols have held mainly Shamanic beliefs before they converted to Islam.
  • In Turkey, the wolf is still held in high regard, and is seen in a similar light as to the Romans – the wolf Ashina Tuwu is the mother of the first of the great Khans. Also called Asena, she rescued an injured boy, nursed him back to health, and then bore him ten half-wolf half-human children.  Today the wolf is still seen as a symbol of sovereignty and leadership and used from the PKK (Kurdish Separation Movement)..
  • The mountain people of Georgia, former part of the USSR, once thought, wolves had a society just like people. They were under the protection of a saint and were not thought of as wild animals. Hunters who killed a wolf wore mourning clothes as if they had killed a man.
  • In ancient China, the Wolf is prominent in the Sky. The people believed, that eclipses of the sun were caused by a great sky-wolf eating up the sun. People beat drums and shot arrows at the sun to drive the animal away.  The Chinese saw the wolf also as a guardian of the heavenly palace. In Japan the wolf was admired for its ferocity, tenacity and swift attack. Also, they considered the wolf to be from heaven and to be venerated.


Myth is the foundation of life; it is the timeless pattern, the religious formula to which life shapes itself…Whereas in the life of mankind the mythical represents an early and primitive stage, in the life of an individual it represents a late and mature one. — Thomas Mann

The wolf archetype may seen as great bridge between gods and evil,  male and female, patriarchy and matriarchy,  humans and Nietzsches “Uebermensch”. However, it has to be noted, that wolves live a traditional, wild archetype adjusted to nature. The wolf clearly represents the instincts, so the full and positive wolf  archetypes may be meaningless in today’s context. Or not?  Can be the wolf a weak warrior or a devouring mother, can the wolf sleep with the lambs? Prefer to a be lamb or a lone wolf?

References Symbols (philosopy, history and psychoanalytic)

  • Richard Wagner, Ring des Nibelungen und seine Symbole, Donnington (Transl)
  • Spaziergänge durch Nietzsches Sils-Maria, Raabe 1994
  • Nietzsche und Faschismus, Taureck Reclam, 2000
  • Nietzsche Philosophie als Kunst, Friedrich DTV, 1999
  •  NietzscheSchriften
    • Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.
    • Also sprach Zarathustra (1883–1885)
    • Jenseits von Gut und Böse
    • Zur Genealogie der Moral
    • Der Antichrist
  • Acient Egypt, Silverman
  • Geschichte des Morgenlandes im Altertum,  Berlin, Historischer Verlag Baumgärtel (ca. 1904)
  • Mythology Comte, 1988
  • Geschichte Ägyptens, Breasted 1954 (Translaion)
  • Der Mensch und seine Symbole, C.G. Jung, Jaffe Olten 1968
  • Wes Nisker, 1990 Crazy Wisdom
  • Jolande Jacobi,  Complex, Archetypes, Symbol in the Psychology of C.G. Jung, Bollingen Series Princton University Press, 1957
  • C.G. Jung, “Four Archetypes Mother, Rebirth, Spirit, Trickster”, Routledge and Paul, 1957.
  • C. G. Jung Archetypen (dtv, Bd. 11)
  • Jung, C. G. (Hg.) (1968). Der Mensch und seine Symbole. Olten: Walter
  • Jung, C. G., Jacobi, J. (1971 ): Mensch und Seele. Zitate von C. G. Jung aus dem Gesamtwerk 1905 bis 1961. Olten: Walter
  • Jung in Context A Reader
  • Neue Jerusalm Bibel, Herder 2011/The holy Bible. King James Translation. (1947). Cleveland: The World Publishing Company.BishopB

References secondary

  • Alpha Status, Dominance, and Division of Labor in Wolf Packs
  • Mech, L. E. (1991). The way of the wolf. Stillwater: Voyageur Press.
  • Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation
  • The Wolf: The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species
  • Politics of Aristotle asserts excellence varies with social role, including gender.
  • The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex; Warren Farrell, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1993: ISBN 0-671-79349-7
  • The Liberated Man; Warren Farrell, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1993: ISBN 0-671-79349-7
  • Why Man are the way they are:  Warren Farrell, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1993: ISBN 0-671-79349-7
  • Fire in the Belly by Sam Keen(1991), Bantham
  • Iron John, Robert Bly (1992), Vintage Books
  • Sex Differences, Modern Biology and the Unisex Fallacy, Yves Christen
  • Raising a son by Don Elium and Jeanne Elum (1994);  Celetial Arts, Berceley
  • The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men; Christina Hoff Sommers ISBN 0-684-84956-9
  • Estes, C. P. (1992). Women who run with the wolves: Myths and stories of the wild Woman archetype. New York: Ballantine Books.
  • Neumann, E. (1955). The great mother. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
  • Towery, T. L. (1997). The wisdom of wolves: Nature’s way to organizational success. Franklin, TN.: Wessex House publishing.
  • K. Theweleit (1978) Männerphantasien Verlag Roter Stern I and II